I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.
A freak accident on an away mission leads to the death of a crew member, survived only by her young son. Worf wants to share in the experience with the child, but so does an alien energy field which turns into a fake-mom and tries to lure the child off the ship to make a pseudo-utopic life for him. The alien-force is eventually talked out of it by reasoning that human experience must be had instead of a false front.
I’ll admit it: I fell asleep during this one. But I did rewatch the ending to make up for it. That said, this is not a very exciting or engaging episode. It has some pretty good moments and deals well with issues of loss (did I just say that about a TNG episode!?), but it just doesn’t make you want to watch it. Perhaps the most interesting part of the episode is Picard’s dialogue with Troi on the ins-and-outs of having children aboard a starship. This conversation was interesting, and brings up some great questions: is it better to leave kids out of harm’s way but separate from their parent(s) for long periods of time or have them riding into the Neutral Zone with their families? The reasoning from Picard and Troi was interesting, and the question could probably sustain a different episode, but not this one. This one is more concerned with the question of grief and weird aliens. Yeah.
Worf finally gets another episode with some character time, but it is unfortunately largely wasted. He has a great exchange with Troi over dealing with grief and the futility of such a loss, but it doesn’t go beyond that. His ‘adoption’ of Jeremy isn’t awful, but it seems strange. You’d think Starfleet would have other systems in place.
Grade: C- “Literally put me to sleep.”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: B “The acting was somewhat lacking but it dealt well with themes of grieving and death.”
After exploring an ancient derelict, the Enterprise find itself caught in the same energy-sucking trap. Geordi goes to the holodeck to talk to the computer in order to figure out how to get out of the trap. Eventually, Geordi and a facsimile of an engineer who worked on the Enterprise‘s design come up with a solution which leads to Picard’s expertly piloting the Enterprise out of danger.
“Booby Trap” has the makings of a great episode. Picard is jubilant over an ancient archaeological find; Geordi finally gets some real screen time; the plot itself is interesting; and the music is again noteworthy, though at times overbearing. Unfortunately, the episode fails to capitalize on these factors. Instead, we see Geordi as incompetent at relationships and getting to intimately know the ship’s computer. Weird.
It’s sad because the episode really has some great moments. The discovery aboard the derelict of a captain’s log was a great moment, and Picard’s piloting out of the mess by slingshotting around an asteroid makes the episode have an action-film feel not often present in TNG. However, for Geordi’s character to essentially get disrespected makes it all feel wrong. Sure, it’s fine to have problems with the opposite sex; but to reduce it to “what do women like” as if all women like the same thing or “what can I do differently” as if making up a scenario is the way to woo people makes the whole notion feel odd. Geordi’s ultimately relational “success” with the Computer–and did anyone else sense a double meaning with the notion that pressing the ship’s buttons is pressing the designer’s?–exacerbates the problem.
“Booby Trap” isn’t terrible, it just isn’t at the level set by other episodes at this point. Hopefully Geordi will see justice done for his character later.
Also, side note, wasn’t Worf trying to build a model ship in an earlier episode… and wasn’t Data perplexed by Geordi (?) building a model ship also? Maybe they just didn’t realize they could put them in bottles.
Grade: C “Geordi gets a girlfriend, named ‘Computer.'”
Wife’s Grade and Comment: C+ “Development for Geordi was good, but the rest of it was bland.”
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